Timothy Field Beard, R.I.P.

Timothy Field Beard passed away recently. He served as Librarian in the Local History and Genealogical Division of the New York Public Library and was formerly Director of the Minor Memorial Library and the Hodge Memorial Library in Roxbury, Connecticut. He is the author of How to Find Your Family Roots (McGraw-Hill, 1977) and is a Fellow the American Society of Genealogists and the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. Mr. Beard was also Past President of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists.

How Kim Kardashian’s Ancestors Escaped from the Armenian Genocide

I normally don’t pay attention to articles about the ancestry or the relatives of celebrities. However, a recent article about the horrors endured by the Kardashian family 100 years ago strikes me as a notable exception.

The family fled Tsarist Russia in the early twentieth century at a time when many of their relatives and neighbors were being slaughtered solely because of their ethnicity.

Director of NIGR Appointed

The following announcement was written by the National Institute on Genealogical Research:

National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) Board of Directors Appoints New Director

Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CG

The board of directors of the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) is pleased to announce the appointment of Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CGSM as director of the institute, effective immediately. She will assume responsibility for future programs, the next to be held in July 2016. The National Archives has expressed strong support for the continuation of NIGR and will work with the new director to assure the institute’s success in future years.

Connecticut Woman has the Last laugh by Writing Her Own Obituary

Norma R. Brewer of Fairfield, Connecticut, passed away recently. Her obituary in the Connecticut Post says:

“Norma Rae Flicker Brewer, a resident of Fairfield, passed away while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. She never realized her life goal of reaching the summit, but made it to the base camp. Her daughter, Donna, her dog, Mia, and her cats, came along at the last minute. There is suspicion that Mrs. Brewer died from hypothermia, after Mia ate Mrs. Brewer’s warm winter boots and socks.”

Famous Kin of Thomas Jefferson

Click on the above image to view the full sized infographic on the Crestview site.

Crestleaf has an interesting infographic that helps confirm the idea that everyone is related to most everyone else. The infographic shows many of the notable Americans who are related to Thomas Jefferson, ranging from George Washington to Paris Hilton.

Of course, millions of other, less notable, people are also related to Thomas Jefferson and, through him, to all the others shown in the Crestleaf infographic at

Patricia Shawker, R.I.P.

Click on the above image to view a larger version

Sad news. The following was written by Claire Bettag and Marie Melchiori:

With profound sadness we learned that our colleague and friend, Patricia Shawker, CG, FNGS, died Friday, 16 January 2015, after a two-and-a half-year battle with cancer. Patty’s husband, Tom, also our genealogical colleague, has asked us to reach out to the larger community with this unexpected news. The funeral will be on Saturday 24 January, noon until 2PM at Gasch’s Funeral Home, 4739 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, MD, 20781. An obituary will be published later this week and will be forwarded to you at that time.

The Truth Behind George Clooney’s Irish Roots

The Irish ancestors of Hollywood star George Clooney were victims of grotesque human rights abuses that drove them out of their small cottage on the Kilkenny Tipperary border, the Sunday Independent has revealed.

George Clooney’s ancestor, Nicholas Clooney, and his siblings were driven out of post-Famine Ireland by the land-owning Irish around Windgap, Co Kilkenny. These wealthy Irish were involved in the “cleansing” of the Clooneys and their kith from their homesteads in the three years after the Great Famine ended in 1852.

After the Famine, during which a million died from starvation and disease and another million emigrated, there was a “survival of the fittest” battle among the natives as land ownership was consolidated. In the eyes of big farmers, their odious “middlemen” and the landlords, cottiers like the Clooneys had no rights and were effectively disposable.

And they used crooked law to get rid of the Clooneys and their neighbours.

Britain’s Oldest Person Has Died at the Age of 114

Ethel Lang was believed to be the last person living in the UK who was born in the reign of Queen Victoria. She apparently lived a long and happy life, according to an article in the BBC News web site at

However, when was the last time you read an obituary that included the words, “… is survived by a 91-year-old daughter”?

Darcie Hind Posz, CG, Appointed Editor of NGS Magazine

The following announcement was written by the folks at the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

Arlington, VA, 12 January 2015: The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has appointed Darcie Hind Posz, CGSM as the new managing editor of NGS Magazine. Darcie joins NGS Magazine to continue NGS’s goal of sharing genealogical expertise from leaders in the field through articles, stories, instruction, and news in its quarterly magazine. As editor, Darcie will build upon the work of Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, CG who recently retired as editor after ten years of distinguished service.

FindMyPast Announces Appointment of Ben Bennett as new Vice President of International Business

The following announcement was written by FindMyPast:

London, UK, and Salt Lake City, US 7 January 2014. Findmypast, a leading family history site, has announced the appointment of Ben Bennett as their Executive Vice President of International Business.

From January 2015, Ben will be responsible for the development of Findmypast’s North American market as well as other markets outside of the UK. Ben will become a member of Findmypast’s Senior Management team and will have an important role in building a global structure for Findmypast.

This Day in History: Samuel Morse Demonstrates Telegraph Machine

Portrait of Samuel F. B. Morse taken by Mathew Brady, in 1866. Click on the image to view a larger version.

On January 6, 1838, painter Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) gave his first public demonstration of his new telegraph system. Within a few years, telegraph lines were strung across the United States and the Atlantic, completely changing the nature of long distance communication. By the end of the nineteenth century telegraph lines could be found in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It was the first method of high-speed communications, a concept that has been expanded greatly since 1838.

Before the invention of the telegraph, postal services and messengers were the only common methods of sending information over long distances and even across oceans. Such methods required days or weeks for messages to reach their recipients.

New Pennsylvania Archivist faces a Big Task

David Carmicheal took over as Pennsylvania archivist last month, overseeing 220 million documents. Among them is Pennsylvania’s hallowed founding document, Penn’s Charter, housed for now in a windowless tower next to the State Museum in the Capitol complex. The bespectacled 57-year-old is considered a rock star in a field of professionals who tend to carry out their work behind locked doors and out of the spotlight.

During his tenure as Georgia’s state archivist, Carmicheal was credited with establishing the “virtual vault,” putting 1.5 million records online and leading national efforts on emergency management of priceless collections during disasters.

COSCA Appoints Dr. Bruce Durie As Its Official Seannachaidh

The following announcement was written by the Council of Scottish Clans & Associations:

The Council of Scottish Clans & Associations is delighted and honored to announce the appointment of Dr. Bruce Durie, BSc (Hons) PhD OMLJ FSAScot FCollT FIGRS FHEA as COSCA’s Seannachaidh. Dr. Durie will be consulting on a range of genealogical and ancestral questions and projects for COSCA and its members.

“As Scottish Americans we celebrate our collective and personal heritage with great energy” said Susan McIntosh, President of The Council of Scottish Clans & Associations. “Having an accurate and complete understanding of people and events long past is critical in distinguishing serious pursuit of ethnic heritage from mere hobby. Bruce Durie brings an unquestioned professionalism and depth of knowledge on a huge range of topics and disciplines that are important to almost every Scottish American.”

Regarding his appointment and the opportunity to work more closely with COSCA, Dr. Durie stated “I am, for the record, chuffed to little mint balls and genuinely honoured”. Bruce’s unrivaled professional qualifications, his depth of knowledge, readiness to help and remarkable wit have made him a favorite of Scottish Americans.

NEHGS Presents 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award to Dame Angela Lansbury

The following announcement was written by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS):

On Thursday evening, November 13, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) presented Dame Angela Lansbury with a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in the Performing Arts with a custom genealogy and multi-generation family tree. The event helped mark the success of the NEHGS Connecting Families, Advancing History capital campaign which has surpassed the $50 million mark of a $55 million campaign goal. Through the campaign NEHGS has acquired the adjacent building at 97 Newbury Street to expand its headquarters to include educational space for school children, a museum shop, and increased exhibition space. The campaign has also supported a major website initiative that will add more than 2 billion new records to the Society’s award-winning website,

How A 4-Year-Old Auschwitz Survivor Finally Found His Family

Menachem Bodner, a twin survivor of the Mengele experiments, lost his entire family when he was just a little boy. For 68 years, he did not know what had happened to the rest of his family. He is still searching for his twin brother, but recently found his first cousins in California thanks to a persistent genealogist.

About a year and a half ago, Ynet published the story of Menachem Bodner, a twin survivor of the Mengele experiments, who after 70 years, thanks to a persistent genealogy researcher, discovered his real name, his place of birth and the fact that he has distant relatives living in Israel.

Recently, thanks to a DNA test and a research of his roots in the United States, he also found cousins he never knew he had, and held a video chat with them from California last week.

In addition, for the first time in his adult life, he received a picture of his parents, who were erased from his scarred memory in Auschwitz and who he had not seen since the family was sent to the camps by the Gestapo.

Can You Marry Your Cousin?

Consider this list:

Charles Darwin married his first cousin.

Albert Einstein’s parents were first cousins. Then Albert married his own first cousin. Elsa Lowenthal, Einstein’s second wife, was his first cousin on his mother’s side. In fact, they were also “double cousins.” Lowenthal also happened to be Einstein’s second cousin on his father’s side.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt were fifth cousins, once removed (a chart showing their relationship is available at

John Adams married his third cousin, Abigail Smith.

John F. Fitzgerald, former mayor of Boston and grandfather of John F. Kennedy, married his second cousin, Mary Josephine Hannon.

Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, married his second cousin once removed, Regina Peruggi

Donny Osmond Joins RootsTech 2015

One of the biggest names in entertainment from one of the most well-known families in the world will be part of the largest family history conference in the world. RootsTech 2015 announced today that entertainer, actor, author, and television host Donny Osmond will be joining RootsTech as a keynote speaker on Saturday, February 14, 2015. He will inspire the thousands of conference attendees to discover and share family stories of the past, present, and future.

An Automotive Family Reunion: Remember Your Father by Buying his old Car

Stock photo of a 1973 Corvette Convertible, not the one mentioned in the article. Click on the above picture to view a larger version.

Scott Bachman’s father passed away some time ago. When thinking of his father’s life and the times Scott spent with his father, some of his most cherished childhood memories were those of his late father’s beloved orange 1973 Corvette Stingray convertible. Scott was three years old when his father purchased the car. His father died while working on the car.

Years after the father’s death, Scott’s mother sold the car. Scott recently began searching for the car, and when he found it, he bought it.

Jane E. Wilcox Named Contributing Editor of New York Genealogical and Biographical Record

Jane Wilcox is well-known for her radio show: “The Forget-Me-Not Hour: Your Ancestors Want Their Stories to Be Told.” Now she is expanding her role, as described in this announcement:

KINGSTON, N.Y. (October 1, 2014) – Professional genealogist Jane E. Wilcox of Forget-Me-Not Ancestry has joined the team of contributing editors of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. Wilcox, an author, national lecturer and radio show host, joins an international group of editors.

A member of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s Education Committee as well, Wilcox said, “It is a great honor to be asked to join this distinguished team of contributing editors, which includes three fellows of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and two fellows of the American Society of Genealogists. I look forward to the collaboration.”

The Record is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal of great distinction in continuous publication since 1870 and is published quarterly by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B).

An Interview with Paul Allen, Co-Founder

Many people in the genealogy business know Paul Allen, one of the two entrepreneurs who purchased a small book publishing company, called Ancestry Publishing, in 1997. They converted it into what has since become a multi-million dollar online powerhouse called Not bad for a man who started his career by studying Russian as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University with plans to become a professor, like his father.

Justin Heifetz of the Gallup Business Journal recently interviewed Paul Allen and his article is now available online at Gallup’s web site. In the interview, Paul describes his path from starting as a student in Russian, making several side trips into other business ventures, and eventually becoming a successful entrepreneur.


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